Thinking about sprucing up your website? Wondering what to do to keep your hotel website up-to-date in the 21st century?
Looking to attract new site visitors and keep others returning?
You’ve come to the right place.
For lodging owners and operators, we’ve put together a list of hotel website design trends to take you clear through the next few years.
Centered around usability and personalization, you’ll find these new and emerging trends have the ability to put your hotel website a step above the rest.
Here are hotel website trends to get you started:
A Look at Minimalism
Quite a few trends have emerged this year when it comes to hotel website design, and minimalism is one of them.
We think this trend will continue well into the future as people are always looking at clean design as an option.
So, what does minimalism mean for your hotel website?
It means clean lines, getting rid of clutter and moving towards a much simplified design.
With a minimalist design, the navigation is made even simpler and intuitive. Long drop down menus disappear, and you guide your site visitor directly to what they are looking for – lodging.
When navigation is simpler on your site, you’ll notice that people don’t bounce off quite as fast. When navigation is clear and consistent, they are encouraged to stay.
Check out the example from The Grand Hotel above. This site uses one simple image that broadcasts the going room rate. When you click book now, a box slides out from the left for instant reservations.
Website visitors have no distractions and find everything they need when it comes to making a reservation.
The Large Image Commands Center Stage
One of the trends in hotel website design you might have noticed is the nod to the extra-large, or hero image. In the last year or so, websites are showing up with large images at the top that extend all the way from side to side.
Why the emergence of this large photo? Smartphones, of course.
Smartphones have changed so much about our lives, and they’ve certainly influenced web design. Because images resize smaller on smartphones, websites are better off when the photos begin extra-large.
What’s more, the super-sized image is a great way for your hotel to tell a story and solidify your brand image. Ask yourself what would be better – a large photo of your room or a large photo of your room with people in it, telling a story that resonates with others?
In website design, the trend is to let your pictures tell the story. Use vivid, high-quality professional photos to portray your brand and speak to your website visitors, drawing them into your property.
Take a look at the image above from the Cypress Inn in Carmel, California. Doesn’t that image entice you?
Their top image slider goes on to highlight their gorgeous living room, lodging rooms and even the incredible beach just a few blocks away. Even though there aren’t any people featured, the photos tell a story of comfort, Mediterranean-style and laid back beach atmosphere in a classy setting.
Website visitors can envision themselves staying at the inn and enjoying all that Carmel has to offer.
Bottom line – use imagery to tell the story of your property on your website.
Visit the AirBnB website. They use a video header to really tell the story of using their reservation system. The video tells people not “to go” to a city, but it tells them “to live” in that city. It shows happy people and families doing what they love comfortably in someone else’s home.
Website designers have been incorporating video into page headers and backgrounds for a while, but it’s gained a lot of ground recently as Internet speeds increase and browser technology is much better.
Video is good for your hotel website because it has the added ability of actually telling your story through audio. It shows people really enjoying your property or the city you’re located in. It helps them visualize how happy they’ll be.
Be sure that when adding video to your website, you test it across multiple platforms. This means across browsers as well as screen sizes. Make sure the video file type is compatible in as many places as possible.
If it’s degraded on mobile phones, consider replacing it with an image.
Responsive Design is Non-Negotiable
Is your website responsive to screen size? In other words, do your site visitors have the same incredible experience when viewing your website on their phones, tablets, laptops, desktops and even large television screens?
If not, you have to make the change. Now.
Why? Mobile is here to stay, and many studies show that hotel bookings are rising on mobile devices. This is why having a mobile-friendly, responsive website is crucial to your success. Here are a few more reasons why:
- Google favors mobile-friendly websites in search. Google rewards sites that resize well and penalizes websites that don’t.
- Nearly 45% of travelers use mobile apps to book their accommodations on a mobile device.
- More than 85% of travelers book their activities on their mobile device.
When redesigning your website, do it with the mobile customer in mind. You can bet that mobile customers are looking for location, availability and price, so offer it to them right up front.
The Power of the Story
We’ve touched on this a bit, but we want to dive into a bit more. When we talk about the story, we’re talking about immersing your website visitor in the experience of staying at your property.
Social media sites like Instagram beg for people to share things, and they want to share experiences. The same is true on your website.
Your customers not only want to know what your rooms are like, but they want to know what it’s like to stay at your property.
- What’s it like to eat breakfast there?
- Do they get to sit on your terrace and enjoy the early sun’s rays?
- Is your pool surrounded by serenity and beautiful flowers or the sound of the highway?
- Can they relax in your hot tub outside at night while gazing at the stars or inside a stale room with shouting children?
- Do your beds look soft enough to sink into?
- What’s the city like? Are you close to where they want to go?
How do you let them know? Use photos, video, text, blog posts, reviews and even social media to weave your story. Use these things on your website to recreate the experience of staying at your hotel.
Take a look at The Peninsula Hotels. They incorporate vivid imagery and videos to really tell their story.
Be sure to tell the real story. Don’t embellish or mislead your customers. Show them and tell them so you don’t end up with disappointed guests.
Long Scrolling is Okay
Once taboo in website design, long scrolling is now okay.
While designers used to design with the fold in mind, and everything had to be above it, again smartphones led the way.
When browsing online, smartphone users are in for the long scroll. So, it was only natural that websites followed suit.
Long scrolling involves scrolling through content on one single page instead of clicking through many drop down menus to subpages. The secondary and tertiary pages have become a thing of the past as the user experience demands everything in one place.
Mobile web browsing is more intuitive with the scroll as clicking isn’t nearly as easy. The long scroll is a smooth way to showcase your content.
The Citizen Hotel does the long scroll quite well. It’s so much easier for mobile users and therefore desktop users to find everything they need all on one page. No one likes to see hotel details on one page and reservation info on another.
The take-away is long scrolling is okay, but be careful not to overwhelm or hide your most important content at the bottom.
Flat Design Can Work
Another new trend is flat design. But, just what is it?
One of the easiest ways to describe it is to think of the Windows 10 app screen. Microsoft uses this style on its interface, and it is quite opposite of the Apple iOS interface.
Flat design is minimalistic, but it also emphasizes usability. The website space is clean, open, crisp and very bright. Illustrations are flat or two-dimensional.
Images are often icon-like, and there is a separation between touchable objects.
Flat design isn’t nearly as exciting as some of the trends we’ve mentioned already, but it does allow uber-fast load times and ensures sites work well across all devices.
Flat design strips away the graphics and extraneous design elements, leaving only the parts that have functionality.
When using flat design, you only include what’s necessary and usable, ensuring a clean site with easy navigation.
While not a true hotel website, but still in the travel industry, Parcours Canada uses flat design with a magazine style layout.
To design your hotel website effectively using flat design, think of everything in the way of simplicity.
Use solid, vivid colors to place emphasis on items. Use sans serif fonts for a crisp look. Keep text concise. Use buttons and links that are clear and noticeable.
The goal is a cohesive visual design that is highly functional.
Animation is Exploding
With new advances in animation, including the cinemagraph and animated GIFs, website designers are incorporating more animation than ever into their websites.
Now, it’s not just animation for the sake of animation. It’s there to enhance the story and make the website more interactive.
Types of animation include:
- Scrolling effects with subtle animations – think objects and elements that slide in or fade out.
- Parallax scrolling – background elements move slower than foreground elements.
- Cinemagraphs/animated GIFs – where just part of the image moves.
- Hover animation – helps visitors as they hover over content. If visitors are unsure about a function, the hover will help.
- Motion animation – website visitors are drawn to motion, and it grabs a user’s attention. Motion adds interest and a dynamic element to your page. Include it in images, forms, calls to action and menus.
Fonts Grab the Visitor
Another trend we like is the use of interesting and unique typography.
Strong fonts that make bold statements that are woven into images make a great visual presentation on your website.
With the onset of Google Fonts, everyone can access and use cool fonts on their websites.
When you use fonts, be sure to set a style guide for your website so you don’t use too many fonts. When it comes to typography, consistency is key. Fonts can tie the look of your site together.
Match your fonts to the look of your website and use text with a purpose. Don’t use it just to use it. Your words should have a purpose, and remember that your chosen font is a design element.
Integration Goes Mainstream
The last trend we want to look at is integration.
It used to be that for the most part hotel websites were brochure sites with a bit of the reservation system added in. Hotel operators didn’t have websites that could be updated in real-time when new reservations were made.
There was no way to connect the hotel website with the central reservation system or CRS.
Today, hotel website platforms have the technology they need to dynamically pull information from the CRS to the website and back again.
The user experience is then greatly enhanced on your hotel website, while your job is made much easier. It gives website visitors the information they need to book a room and see your specials, and it streamlines the reservation process for you.
In the digital world we live in, nothing stays still for very long, least of all the website design industry.
Always on the move and looking for the next best thing, website designers are technological giants, looking for new devices and ways to access the Internet.
When it comes to your hotel website, watch the changing landscape. Look for the newest trends, and then evaluate them. Some of them aren’t going to be around for long, but some of them have great potential to give you a leg up on the competition.
The hospitality industry is all about people and meeting their needs. Translate what you already know about running your business into your website and watch your bookings rise.